SAHRC to probe cancer machines

2013-07-18 21:23

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Durban - The SA Human Rights Commission has been asked to investigate the KwaZulu-Natal health department's failure to keep two state of the art cancer radio therapy machines operational.

SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said on Thursday that the commission had received a complaint.

"I can confirm that we are in receipt of a complaint regarding this matter, and have since established that similar complaints were also lodged with other institutions, our colleagues in the Public Protector."

Cancer treatment at Durban's Addington Hospital came to a standstill after Tecmed, the company that installed the Varian Rapid Arc Linear Accelerators and is responsible for maintaining them, stopped servicing them in January.

The company's decision to stop servicing the machines came after the department stopped paying the maintenance contract nine months earlier in March 2012. The department has claimed that Tecmed fraudulently obtained the tender for the two machines - an allegation the company has denied.

In May, KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced that the department would start paying the contract on a month-to-month basis and a few days later Tecmed serviced the machines.

Dhlomo blamed Tecmed for the machines' failure to operate. He believed the department had a strong case against the company.

Mangena did not say who had lodged the complaints or provide exact details of the complaint or against whom it was made.

Five months

However, Professor Amo Jordaan, who headed up the hospital's oncology department and resigned in December over the department's failure to pay the contracts, had previously said he would be lodging a complaint with the SAHRC as had the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union (Hospersa).

It is not known who has lodged a complaint with the Public Protector, but Hospersa spokesperson Michelle Conolly said it was not Hospersa, which was still drawing up its complaint to be lodged with the SAHRC.

Conolly also said that neither Dhlomo or the head of department Sibongile Zungu had responded to the union's memorandum handed to senior representatives of the department at a recent picket staged outside the hospital.

The union had demanded that Dhlomo publicly apologise and explain why the machines had stood idle for almost five months.

The machines at the hospital are still operating but comment could not immediately be obtained from the department as to whether it had paid the maintenance contract as promised by Dhlomo in May.

The Public Protector's spokesperson Kgalelo Msibi said she could not immediately confirm that a complaint had been received regarding Addington Hospital's two radiotherapy machines.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  hospersa  |  sibongiseni dhlomo  |  durban  |  health  |  service delivery

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